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Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

June 29, 2010 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

I’m really excited about today’s recipe for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I never thought of myself as the type of guy who could successfully pull off a dish like this. From a distance it just seems too exotic for a simple fellow who was born and raised in Southern California. But I’m equally happy to report that this particular recipe is very easy to make and lends itself well to leftovers and other interesting food combinations.

Chicken tikka masala is one of the most popular entrees in the Indian culinary tradition. There are countless ways of making it, but it typically involves the use of white meat chicken, a tomato/yogurt sauce and a combination of herbs and spices. More often than not, you’ll find it ladled on top of a generous serving of basmati rice. However, today I’m going to put my own personal spin on it. Before I get into the recipe, I’d like to discuss two of the more prominent components of chicken tikka marsala: cumin and ghee. Cumin is sometimes described as a “smoky” spice that is frequently included in both meat rubs and vegetarian fare alike. But what I like most about it is that it may help slow the aging process. It does so by limiting the accumulation of advanced glycation endproducts or AGE. The formation of AGE is accelerated when there are high levels of blood sugar present. Spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, ginger and green tea all have documented AGE-inhibiting properties. Black pepper, cinnamon and ginger also play a part in this recipe thanks to the inclusion of the spice mixture, Garam Masala. (1,2,3)

Ghee is a form of clarified butter commonly used in Indian cuisine. But before you jump to any conclusions about how unhealthy this sounds, please keep in mind that several animal studies document a decidedly different picture. In fact, feeding rats diets rich in “native” (unheated) ghee actually lowers serum cholesterol levels and decreases lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) in their livers as well. These observations have lead some researchers to the conclude that ghee alters “blood lipid profiles in such a manner so as not to elevate the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases”. (4,5,6)

Chicken Tikka Masala

6 organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts

28 oz organic tomato puree

32 oz organic, full fat yogurt

1 organic medium red onion

2 tbs organic ghee

2 tbs freshly grated organic ginger

2 tbs finely diced organic garlic

2 tbs organic Garam Marsala

2 tbs organic turmeric powder

2 tbs organic ground cumin

1 tsp org. powdered cayenne pepper

NutraSalt or sea salt to taste

Nutritional Content – Calories: 340. Protein: 34 grams. Fat: 14 grams. Carbohydrates: 21 grams. Fiber: 3 grams. Based on 6 servings.

Begin by heating the ghee in a heavy pot or Dutch oven on low heat. Thinly slice the red onion and caramelize until completely browned. Add the fresh ground ginger and garlic followed by the dry spices. Pour in the liquid elements: the tomato puree and yogurt. Stir well and turn the heat up to high. Cube the chicken breasts into even-sized 2″ pieces. Place the chicken cubes into the pot making sure that they’re completely submerged. Cover the pot and allow to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally during the cooking process.

Source: J Postgrad Med 2003;49:222-8 (link)

Those of you who are familiar with my site know that I can’t recommend eating this healthy dish along side basmati rice. However, I can wholeheartedly endorse using it to top my previously-posted “cauliflower risotto” recipe. Simply omit the cheese in the cauliflower recipe and you’ll have a great canvas for this Indian classic.

You may have noticed that the carbohydrate count of this recipe is significantly higher than what you’re accustomed to seeing here. Please keep in mind that most of the carbs come from the organic onion, tomato puree and yogurt. Therefore, it’s very easy to control your carb intake by limiting the amount of “sauce” you consume. In other words, focus on the chicken if you’re restricting carbs and use the sauce only as a garnish. Along these same lines, you’ll find that my version of chicken tikka masala yields a generous amount of sauce, because it was originally designed to pour over rice. But I still consider the sauce a bonus because it can be saved for future use. In our home, we added it to ground taco beef and ground lamb with great results, essentially creating “chili” with twist. One of the highlights of last week was when my wife came home from a long day’s work and I surprised her with a bowl of this Indian delicacy. She absolutely loved it! In fact, Mrs. Healthy Fellow commented that it was the best version of this dish she’d ever tasted. If you try this recipe out in your own home, I hope you’ll have a similar reaction. Be well! JP

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Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Recipes

4 Comments & Updates to “Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe”

  1. doc Says:

    And of course the turmeric in the food has strong antiinfective, antiinflammatory and anticancer properties.

  2. JP Says:


    Turmeric truly appears to be a wonderful food/spice. There’s a lot of very promising research there. I chose to focus on cumin and ghee in this column because I’ve already covered the curcumin/turmeric topic quite extensively in the past.

    Be well!


  3. Lisa Says:

    My kids and I love, love, love (!) curry, and use a recipe similar to yours. You might want to try it without the yogurt (have it on the side to cool your mouth!) and loaded with carrot slices, cauliflower and whole green beans… the cauliflower soaks up the tumeric colour and looks just luscious with the bright carrots. I strongly suggest putting in the green beans not long before the cauliflower and carrots are done, so that they retain their crispness.


  4. JP Says:

    Thank you for the suggestions, Lisa! Much appreciated! 🙂

    Be well!


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